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Working together to stub out smoking among young people this No Smoking Day

Monday, 10 March 2014

Hampshire County Council's Public Health team, Trading Standards and partners are working together on a programme to prevent smoking among young people this No Smoking Day (Wednesday 12 March 2014).

The scheme includes training for school staff and youth workers, curriculum support and a peer education programme.

Bay House School in Gosport is fully engaged with this programme and has seen a significant reduction, since 2009, in the number of 15 year olds smoking.

Meanwhile, Hampshire County Council Trading Standards officers are cracking down on stores selling cigarettes to children by carrying out more test purchases to find out which stores are selling cigarettes to children.

In 18 test purchases carried out by Trading Standards' underage volunteers in the last 12 months, five sales were made. This is a 27% failure rate. Tests were carried out in Gosport, Winchester, Waterlooville, Dibden Purlieu and Horndean.

In general, but not exclusively, smaller, independent stores are failing test purchases. Officers visit shops where concerns or allegations about under age sales have been raised. They check signage and training records, look at refusals logs and recommend improvements where needed. Advice is given on how to prevent the sale of tobacco to underage buyers and, how to ask for reliable photo ID, to challenge young people. Shops are informed that a test purchase will be carried out. Shops that fail one test are given a written warning and tested again.

The maximum fine for selling tobacco to under 18's is £2,500. For persistent selling, shops and staff can be banned from sales for up to 12 months.

Stores which failed the most recent test purchases passed when retested. Two are still to be tested. From April 2015 there will be a ban on the display of cigarettes for small shops.

Commenting on the results, Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry, said: "The test purchasing supports businesses to refuse underage sales and this is part of a wider programme of work we do to reduce the rate of smoking among young people, preventing habits that put their health at risk into adulthood.

"We also tackle underage smoking through our Public Health team, who raise awareness in schools about the dangers of smoking, and provide support to quit."

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, Hampshire County Council's Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: "Currently, in England around 10% of 15 year olds smoke regularly, but in some parts of Hampshire, this rate is even higher, which is why this intervention is so important.

"Any young person who wants to quit can contact the Quit4Life Hampshire Stop Smoking Service. The Service provides free confidential advice and support for smokers of all ages through drop-in sessions, one-to-one help and a dedicated telephone support service. Patches and gum are available on prescription and are free to young people in full-time education. By stopping smoking, you can not only save money, you will also feel fitter and healthier, and reduce your risk of heart attacks and cancer."

The Service provides free confidential advice and support for smokers of all ages through drop-in sessions, one-to-one help and a dedicated telephone support service - patches and gum are available on prescription, which is free for young people.

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